NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Overcoming Lack of Intimacy - Movie: "Hope Springs"

How refreshing it was to see in the movie, "Hope Springs," two older people struggling with the very real and all too common problem in long-term marriages, lack of intimacy.  

These days most movies are geared for tweens and adolescents, so it was great, for a change, to see Meryl Streep (as Kay) and Tommy Lee Jones (as Arnold) portraying a realistic, older married couple in a stagnant marriage that lacks emotional and sexual intimacy.  

Steve Carrell (as Dr. Bernie Feld) plays a credible marriage counselor who provides intensive marriage counseling to address the couple's intimacy problems.

Lack of emotional and sexual intimacy is a common problem in long-term relationships.  Understandably, many couples feel too embarrassed to talk to each other, let alone with anyone else, about their lack of intimacy.

Overcoming Lack of Intimacy in Your Relationship

Often, when couples do come to marriage counseling to overcome intimacy problems, similar to the movie, "Hope Springs," one person in the couple wants to rekindle the relationship while the other would rather sweep their problems under the rug.

Usually, for the more reluctant person, the underlying problem is fear.  Fear of rejection, fear of allowing oneself to be vulnerable, fear of appearing ridiculous, and fear of being accused of being "needy" are among the many reasons why couples often avoid talking to each other about the lack of intimacy in their relationship.  Then, of course, there are all the stereotypes about older people not being sexual or attractive.  Too often older couples buy into these stereotypes about aging, which are perpetuated in the media and all around us.

When there is a lack of intimacy over a period of time, a relationship often becomes dull and unsatisfying.  It can lead to loneliness, resentment, depression, and anxiety as the problem festers, often for years, without either person bringing it up.

Lack of intimacy can erode your sense of self if you think your spouse no longer finds you attractive.  This is a common misperception, but it persists because neither person talks about it.  There is the assumption that if you and your spouse aren't intimate any more, it must be because you're not attractive to him or her.

Lack of intimacy can also lead to infidelity where a new person can appear to be more attractive and exciting.  The allure of an affair can also provide the illusion that the person who feels trapped in a stagnant marriage will feel more exciting and desirable with the new person.

Unfortunately, lack of intimacy, can lead to divorce for marriages that might otherwise have been salvaged in couples counseling.  Even when lack of intimacy doesn't lead to divorce, couples can waste precious years in a stultifying dynamic that could have been overcome if they were willing to seek professional help.

If you're in a marriage where lack of intimacy is eroding your relationship and your sense of self, you owe it to yourself and your spouse to seek professional help from a licensed mental health professional who works with couples.

I recommend "Hope Springs" as an entertaining and thought-provoking movie.

I welcome your thoughts about this movie as well as the topic of lack of intimacy in relationships.  Feel free to comment below.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.    
I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.